The Dark Black Raven | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The Dark Black Raven 

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The Dark Black Raven, Black Cat Productions, at Wing & Groove Theatre. There is no more fertile ground for spoofing than old horror films--the ones with lumbering monsters, haunted houses, and men in bow ties speaking with perfect elocution ("Yez, 'tis indeed a veddy dahk and stohmy night").

Mel Brooks exploited every campy nuance of the genre when he made Young Frankenstein, but this parody more closely resembles The Carol Burnett Show on its worst night ever. Using the literary equivalent of Scotch tape and chewing gum, writer-director Colleen Couillard has pieced together a monstrous melange of fragments from horror-film classics The Old Dark House, The Black Cat, and The Raven. Stranded travelers stumble upon an eerie mansion inhabited by an evil doctor and his dark sister. In the basement their young victim lies unconscious, minutes away from an agonizing frontal lobotomy--prompting ingenue Zazu Heady (Couillard) to quip, "Well, I'd rather have a frontal lobotomy than a bottle in front of me!"

Frankly they should give audience members one or the other before subjecting them to this. Viewing the original films will not make this show any funnier, but it may help explain why someone named Lenore walks around catatonically moaning "Nevermore" and why pussy jokes come out of nowhere. Pussy. Black cat. See? It's only mostly gratuitous. Nothing, however, can explain why Couillard would have everyone break into the hokey pokey. Scary--and not in a good way.

--Kim Wilson

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